It’s National Blood Donor Month, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Across the country, hospitals and blood banks are low on supplies of blood and blood products, some critically. Between the pandemic and last month’s severe weather, donations, which always slow during the holidays, fell even further.
In the fall, the AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross issued a plea for donors to step forward, declaring “significant declines” in many blood collection centers in the US.
New York City’s blood supply ran so low that on Dec. 2nd, Giving Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on residents to donate, offering those who do a chance to win a VIP tour of the Empire State Building, “coaches’ club’’ tickets to a New York Jets football game, and a year’s supply of Krispy Kreme donuts.
The situation has eased some, though just last week New York Blood Center tweeted that “#COVID19 has created a chronic shortage.” Blood centers in the Northeast – from Washington, D.C. to Maine – were so low last week that three had only a one day supply.
Established in 1970 to remind Americans of the importance of blood donations, National Blood Donor Month has grown to honor those who contribute. From these donations, blood banks provide whole blood to hospitals and surgical centers, as well as platelets and plasma.
Many collection sites are especially encouraging contributions from those who have had COVID-19 or whose tests show the presence of antibodies for the virus. Their blood plasma may be used to treat others actively fighting the disease.
To contribute blood, call your local blood bank or the American Red Cross.